How Sheffield cast its place in the history of World War Two

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The feature on Joe Ashton’s book, headline How Attercliffe won the Battle of Britian, refers to Vickers.

In 1940 the company was called the English Steel Corporation, formed from a merger of Cammell Laird & Vickers. The grand slam bomb referred to was not forged but cast at the Cammell’s Grimesthorpe works on Carlisle Street. However the castings were manufactured using a method originated by Vickers for the manufacture of their famous cast steel bells in the late 1800s. Matching of the grand slam bombs was carried out in the South Machine shop of the Vickers works on Brightside Lane.

The bouncing bombs were drum shaped. These were rotated in the aircraft and designed to skip on the surface of the water to sink as a depth charge against the dam wall. While the breaching of the Mohne and Eder dams in 1943 was considered to be one of the first major victories on German soil, the use of grand slam bombs in 1944, which were of the conventional streamlined bomb shape, caused major disruption and probably shortened the war.

Grimesthorpe works on Carlisle Street was closed following the transfer of the steel casting operations to Vickers works. However the original Vickers works on Brightside Lane which machined the bombs have not been operated as Sheffield Forgemasters and Firth Rixon respectively. The latter controls the drop forge operations which produced the Spitfire crankshafts using a German manufactured hammer!

The South Yorkshire Industrial History Society has published a book by me covering the manufacture of Rolled Heavy Armour Plate at the Sheffield works of Charles Cammell and Vickers and plan to publish a further book covering forging operations at the same companies.

Douglas Oldham

Bingham Park Crescent, S11